The Martian Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

From legendary director Ridley Scott comes a gripping tale of human strength and the will to survive, in this engaging thriller that is making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

95

Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox – 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 141 minutes
Genre: Drama/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejofor, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Written by:Drew Goddard
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 1, 2016

“Bring Him Home”

My Take:

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

Based on a best-selling novel, helmed by master director Ridley Scott, and featuring a terrific ensemble cast, headed by star Matt Damon [i]The Martian[i] is all that I hoped it would be. Despite the fervor it caused during its theatrical run I didn’t take it in at the theater. I have to say that I regret that as this film was made for the theatrical experience. I haven’t read the novel but my wife did and she both liked the movie and felt it was a faithful adaptation.

As I watched I reveled in the superbly drawn character of Mark Watney as we are given a fly on the perspective into his struggle for survival. His ingenuity is quite intriguing while his humor serves as a coping device, enabling him to stave off hopelessness and keep his mind from fixating on the dire circumstances. As the storyline progresses his penchant to remain upbeat and optimistic is vital to the proceedings. The narrative shifts between Mark and the people at home on Earth, now trying to find a way to safely bring him home while coping with the various obstacles and red tape they encounter. The last piece to the puzzle are the members of his crew who after learning of his survival, are faced with a monumental decision.

At 141 minutes I had an initial concern about pacing but that wasn’t a problem as I found myself engaged throughout the film. There’s a layer peeling aspect to the narrative but the various elements never lose synch as the balance between drama, adventure, levity and suspense are thematically supported. Matt Damon gives a commanding performance but is capably supported by a star studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Martian. While it’s not the first film to feature a person marooned and facing seemingly insurmountable odds, there’s a depth and freshness to it that strikes a marvelous and rewarding balance. Kudos to director Ridley Scott, the cast and crew for bringing Andy Weir’s novel to the big screen with such exuberance.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some strong language, thematic material/image, and brief nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element):
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element):

UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:

Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

For those not willing to refer to the article linked above, I have included some comments here. The implementation of High Dynamic Range or HDR (HDR10 is the system currently being utilized for Ultra HD home video releases, and in conjunction with that, display manufacturers) as it stands currently, doesn’t appear to have exacting standards and no calibration tools to allow for a foundational threshold for setting up a visual system. This leaves us to do the best we can to determine what appears to be accurate, at least for the time being. With that in mind, my approach to reviewing Ultra HD Blu-ray will be to assess the elements observed which I find to generate the most significant visual impact when compared to standard high definition Blu-ray.

For me, HDR, with its broader spectrum of colors and emboldened highlights in the areas of contrast and brightness, is where the potential lies in the format. The increase in resolution, while an important component, isn’t going to be definitive in every case, especially given that currently many of the Ultra HD Blu-ray releases are derived from 2K Digital Intermediates that are up-converted to 4K. This shouldn’t be strictly construed to mean that such up-converted images won’t look noticeably better than their 1080p counterparts. Conversely, a release finished on a 4K Digital Intermediate isn’t a guarantee that it will be heads and shoulders above the rest. So, what can you expect to hear from me when discussing what I observed from Ultra HD Blu-ray? I will hit upon the things that struck me, the impact, or lack of impact, of HDR and the improvement, if any, in resolution when compared to 1080p Blu-ray. The outcome will be a rating as seen above.

Front projection for home theater is just stepping through the door with respect to the reproduction of HDR. My goal is to present readers with a reasonable expectation of what they can expect when viewing the same content that I have. There may be variables that differ slightly however I believe that in general the outcome will be close. As we are exposed to more and more content and calibration tools come onboard we will have better perspectives from which to gauge. Thanks for reading!

The Martian comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 2160p HEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.6 Mbps.

I was notably impressed with how The Martian looked in 1080p. Originally shot in 5K using the RED Epic Dragon, finished in a 2K Digital Intermediate and then up-converted to 4K, The Martian improves upon the primary elements that made the 1080p release so good. First and foremost, the thing that immediately stands out is the lifelike reproduction of the textures captured by the camera’s lens. Whether it be the finest minutia in physical features/clothing, the residual particles seen on surfaces or the visible gradations in the makeup of metal objects. This isn’t just applicable to details closest to the camera as wide angle shots of the terrain on Mars, a grassy knoll, or panels in a control room, have an added level of clarity.

The benefits of high dynamic range are nearly as stark as colors have an added dimension that enlivens shots where they would normally have blended in, seen as a less provocative background element that would generally go unnoticed. Whites are snappy, detailed and downright dazzling, especially during low level transitions viewed in a darkened environment. Contrast abounds, lending an authenticity that underscores the subject matter, bringing it to a visually compelling level that one ups the 1080p presentation. If I had a nit to pick, and it’s a minor one, it’s that with the enhanced resolution low level noise becomes noticeable on occasion. I suspect that most would probably not even detect it (it’s less noticeable in 1080p) but I wanted to mention it. As I stated in my review of The Martian on Blu-ray, this is superlative video presentation that truly evokes the emotion of the film.

I had high expectations for this soundtrack at home and 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio presentation didn’t disappoint. I was treated to an impeccably detailed, dynamic, and rewarding surround sound experience. Multi-layered sound effects are appropriately placed within the soundfield so that their purpose is definable yet never overstated. The mix makes effective and where appropriate active use of the surround channels to elongate the front soundstage and reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds of this demanding soundtrack. The front and rear sound fields are integrated with precision which enables a seamless transference during panning sequences. Dynamics are energy filled and impact felt with discerning articulation and punch. This is an entertaining mix that utilizes the subwoofer to accentuate its dynamic range. The quality of the bass is first rate as it is fills the room with clean, resonating low frequency detail. Dialog has excellent presence with clear, defining vocal character and noteworthy room penetration. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with terrific soundtrack. The Martian on Blu-ray is a demonstrative worthy home theater experience that complimented the source material.

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

The Martian comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 Mbps.

This is a reference quality video presentation that looks superb. Images are visually arresting and have a rich dynamic quality that highlights its near flawless rendering of detail. The video has a three dimensional and razor sharp clarity that never left me wanting. The visual design is pure Ridley Scott as it features a limited color scheme that is aesthetically perfect for the subject matter. The majority of the film boasts deep shades of gray, blue, sepia, white and black. These colors are not vivid in tonality but their depiction is stark and fully appreciable onscreen. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The various wide angle shots of the habitat and the open exterior expanse on Mars look stunning. Flesh tones are not overtly complex in tone but appear diverse in subtle structure and complexional makeup. This is a sophisticated visual design that uses more CGI than real imagery. The end result is a superlative video presentation that truly evokes the emotion of the film.

Bonus Features:

  • The Martian Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • The Martian Blu-ray (plus bonus features)
  • (HD) Signal Acquired: Writing and Direction – 9 minute featurette
  • (HD) Occupy Mars: Casting and Costumes – 14 minute featurette
  • (HD) Gag Reel – 7 minutes
  • (HD) Production Gallery
  • (HD) Ares III: Refocused – 17 minute faux documentary that takes a deeper look at the true story behind Mark Watney’s rescue
  • (HD) 5 Faux Promotional shorts surrounding the Mars mission (s) and people involved:
    1. Ares III: Farewell – 4 minutes
    2. The Right Stuff – 3 minutes
    3. Ares: Our Greatest Adventure – 3 minutes
    4. Leave Your Mark – 1 minute
    5. Bring Him Home – 1 minute
  • (HD) Theatrical Trailer
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the bestselling novel by Andy Weir and helmed by director Ridley Scott, The Martian is a compelling, engrossing and thoroughly entertaining film that is complimented by an excellent cast and apt direction. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring excellent Ultra High Definition video, engaging lossless surround sound, and a worthwhile supplement set that looks behind the scenes at the making of the film. As a fan I am very pleased to own this Ultra HD Blu-ray offering from 20th Century Fox and highly recommend it for fans that are set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Ralph Potts
online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player
Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS PC12-NSD
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package

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